Northern Ireland news

Mural to Irish Zionist defaced in 'anti-Semitic' attack

The mural celebrating Irish and Israeli links is located at an interface on Belfast's Northumberland Street
Paul Ainsworth

AN attack on a north Belfast mural celebrating an Irishman who became an Israeli hero has been called "grossly offensive".

The mural at an interface on Northumberland Street highlights the life of John Patterson, a British Army soldier from Co Longford who captained a troop of Jewish fighters in World War One.

He went on to support the creation of Israel, and the remains of the Zionist hero, who died in 1947, were reburied in an Israeli cemetery in 2014 after being interred in a Los Angeles cemetery for 67 years.

The Belfast mural was unveiled in 2015 and last year was scorched by vandals in an arson attack.

It was targeted again between Thursday night and Friday morning in an attack dubbed "sick" and "evil" by north Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey.

"This is grossly offensive anti-Semitic graffiti. Those responsible are not reflective of Belfast and having nothing to offer our society or this city," he said.

"Our small but growing Jewish community is the oldest and much valued minority community in the city."

The incident was also condemned by Belfast Pastor Paul Burns, whose Jewish uncle fled Austria during the Holocaust.

"This is a cross-community mural, as Col Patterson himself came from a mixed marriage, with a Protestant father and a Catholic mother," he said.

"It is on a peaceline, so the cowards responsible were trying to heighten tensions in the area."

The chairman of the Belfast Jewish Community, Michael Black, said: "This graffiti isn't just offensive to Belfast's Jewish community, but to everyone. It's anti-Semitic, and I would urge anyone with information on those responsible to contact the police."

A PSNI spokesman said the incident was being investigated as a hate crime.

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